Split shifts are the key to higher productivity, according to this sommelier

Krista Krumina 28.02.2022
sommelier productivity

We tend to think that working 8 hours in a row is the way it’s supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way for all of us. 

Ideally, we should work when we feel most productive. This should define our workday structure, even if that means splitting our day into several shifts.

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David Bowen is the owner, CEO, and content manager of Bordeaux Undiscovered, a specialized blog providing resources and guidance for wine enthusiasts interested in learning about every facet of wine. 

Soon after starting his business, he realized that a 9-5 workday didn’t work well for him. He came up with an idea to split his day into two work shifts with a long, 9-hour break in the middle. The result? A significant increase in productivity that’s benefited his business ever since.

Here’s David’s story.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

”A split shift has increased my productivity and given me more time for myself”

David Bowen, owner & CEO of Bordeaux Undiscovered

I have a rather different work schedule than the majority of people and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. 

Here’s what my typical workday looks like:

Since I’m not much of a sleeper, my working day begins at 5 am and I work on administrative tasks up until 10 am. Then, I take time off and resume my workday at 7 pm when I carry out wine-tasting sessions with potential clients. My workday ends at around 11 pm.

I work five hours in the morning when I’m most productive and usually that’s enough to round off all the essential office tasks. Then, I spend the remaining four hours in the evening networking and serving my clients.  

Split workday works well for me because I manage to have time off during the day that lets me relax, focus on my own wellbeing, and be highly focused and productive again in the evening.

I have, of course, worked the typical 9-5 and it suited me well in the beginning, but I soon realized I couldn’t work as efficiently as I needed.

First of all, because I woke up as early as 5 am, I had to spend four hours in the morning waiting around and killing time until my shift would start. By the afternoon with my workday just halfway through, I already felt tired and my productivity decreased. And then, my shift would end at 5 pm, which didn’t make sense – many clients would only be available for wine-tasting sessions in the evenings, so I would be working late anyway. 

That’s why I decided to split my workday into two shifts. Since then, not only have I managed to double the amount of wine-tasting sessions for my clients, I am also able to work more efficiently in the morning and finish all the administrative tasks on time.

Although I work late in the evenings, my current workday arrangement still allows me to keep a good work-life balance. During the day, I have plenty of time for myself – my wellbeing, hobbies, etc. On weekends, I’m completely free to spend time with my family and friends.  

How to implementing a split-shift workday

Here are 3 important tips people should consider before implementing a split shift structure in their work life.

One – focus on productivity

The first thing to consider when implementing a split shift schedule is your productivity. Build your schedule and working shifts around the times of the day when you’re most productive. This way, you’ll make the most out of your working hours. 

DeskTime allows you to see when your productivity levels are the highest.

For example, if you’re not a morning person, starting work at 5 am might not be the best option for you. Perhaps, it’s a better idea for you to start your workday in the afternoon and schedule an hour or two late in the evening if that’s when you feel the most alert. 

Similarly, if you feel sleepy and can’t focus after lunch, perhaps you need to schedule a longer break right after it to go for a walk, take a nap, or just do anything that’s not work-related. And then, start a new shift with replenished energy.

Two – aim for the work-life balance you need

Bear in mind that working in a split shift can affect some aspects of your private time. 

For instance, aligning your free time with that of your family and friends might be tricky if your shift starts in the evening – the time when most of them finish their workday. My solution is to do the things that are important to me, such as exercising, spending time on my hobbies, etc., during the free time I have on working days so that weekends can be 100% dedicated to family and friends.

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Three – pick the right times for your business

Finally, you shouldn’t choose a split shift only because it benefits your productivity and work-life balance. It also has to fit your business needs. Having a workday structure that is not compatible with your clients or the people you work with will become a problem in the long run. 

For example, ending your morning shift when most businesses start operating could be an issue to arrange work meetings with your clients or partners. Or if you work with clients or partners from different time zones, you may want to adjust your schedule to ensure you can be responsive to them. 

I myself adjusted my shifts to the schedules of my clients – since most of them couldn’t attend a wine-tasting session in the afternoon, I started to offer them in the evenings. If I were in the coffee business, this probably wouldn’t work and I should rearrange my workday. 

To conclude – as you can see, when it comes to split shifts there’s never one-size-fits-all. People are different and so are their businesses. Therefore, I can’t suggest a specific split schedule you should implement. But I can suggest giving this approach a try, tailoring it for your own and your business’ needs.

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